The Global Oceans Health Program of the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership (SFP)

The Global Oceans Health Program of the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership (SFP) helps leaders in the seafood industry protect seafood supplies from ocean acidification (OA) and related changes in seawater composition.

One major initiative of our program works with growers, fishermen and scientists to:

(i)             Document changing seawater chemistry and its effects on seafood production, using low-cost, proven methods;

(ii)           Help growers and fishermen develop monitoring skills and scientific guidance to build their capacity to acquire reliable data on changing seawater chemistry and its effects on seafood production (e.g. in shellfish hatcheries).

(iii)          Strengthen the seafood industry’s capacity to protect seafood supplies from changing seawater chemistry, via both adaptation and prevention.  For example, we document and share adaptive monitoring and production practices to help produces avoid impacts from changing seawater chemistry that cannot be prevented. We also help seafood producers and buyers understand and pursue policy options: a) for strengthening controls on the causes of OA (e.g. through bringing acidifying emissions under management); and b) for supporting scientific research to inform more effective responses.

Four recent accomplishments of SFP’s Global Oceans Health Program include:

Spring 2011: We raised foundation funds to ensure that the Pacific Coast Shellfish Growers Association can continue its monitoring and sampling program for another year in hatcheries and bays in the Pacific Northwest, working with Alan Parks who runs the PCSGA program. This program represents an important model of harvester-scientist cooperative monitoring that we are working to sustain and expand  (see below).

2)    Winter 2010-2011: We organized an initiative in Maine that enabled shellfish hatchery operators to develop their own monitoring and sampling program based on the PCSGA model, working in cooperation with OA researchers at the University of New Hampshire and St. Joseph’s College.

3)    2007-2010: We organized a series of briefings and workshops (including testimony at three House & Senate hearings), where seafood industry representatives and scientists briefed federal lawmakers and other leaders on acidification, its potential consequences, and options for response.

4)    2008-2011: We run an ongoing series of industry-facing workshops, a website, and a study groups to help fishermen, growers and seafood companies learn about changing ocean chemistry, its implications, and opportunities to address its causes and consequences.

In cooperation with leading oceanographers and industry groups, we are currently working to refine and expand the model of harvester-scientist cooperative monitoring of acidification, especially in regions where seafood production and marine ecosystems are believed to most at risk.  This approach is a cost-effective strategy for advancing several aims simultaneously:

a)     Strengthening the industry’s capacity to protect seafood supplies from changing ocean chemistry;

b)     Generating data that clarify effects of acidification on seafood supplies, coastal economies, and people who rely on them;

c)     Expanding capacity for cooperation between scientists, industry, and policymakers in order to respond effectively to the causes and consequences of OA and related changes in ocean chemistry.